TODAY -

Lui Ngai Ni: Unique Festival For People With Unique History
- Part 1 -

Aheibam Koireng Singh *

Lui-Ngai-Ni - seed sowing festival of Nagas of Manipur - organized at Senapati public ground :: 15 February 2015
Lui-Ngai-Ni - seed sowing festival of Nagas of Manipur - organized at Senapati public ground :: 15 February 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



A representation submitted to the Manipur Chief Minister for reinstating 'Gaan Ngai' as State Holiday by Zeliangrong Union Clubs Association Manipur Valley (ZUCAMV) on 31-10-2002 allegedly stated 'Lui-Ngai-Ni' as artificial state sponsored festival”. The declaration of 'Lui-Ngai-Ni' as state general holiday during the Chief Minstership of Rishang Keishing in 1988, himself from Tangkhul community and his remaining in active politics as senior most Congress leader at the time of dropping Gaan Ngai from the holiday list perhaps prompted ZUCAMV to make such statement.

The endeavor for the invention of common festival of the 'Nagas' in Manipur started in the mid 1980s. Nagas being the most colorful people have been characterized by diversity. Some who now identify themselves as Nagas were classified by the earlier British colonial administrator as belonging to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo (CHIKIM). If that is the case then can we say whether 'Naga' is more of a political creed than a socio-cultural identity.

Hobsbawn and et.al says (rp., 2002) 'traditions' which appear or claimed to be old are often quite recent in its origin and sometimes invented. This contention seems equally valid in the case of Lui-ngai-ni. An introductory statement by Secretary, Organising Committee, in the Souvenir, Naga Lui-Ngai-Ni, the 15th February, 1988, Imphal says: "of late, the Naga groups have emerged from their isolated doll-states and asserted their identity as one race in the comity of the Indian Nation which has been accepted by the Government of India. …

The Nagas do not have a common festival which could be called as the “national festival.” This statement reflects the quest for concretizing the identity of the Manipur Nagas, which they perhaps felt it inevitably necessary to satisfy the political needs of the present generation.

Considering the need for a common festival of their own, Naga scholars, leaders and social workers considered to organize a seminar, to find out ways and means whereby a common festival of the Nagas could be formulated. Proceedings of the Seminar on the 'Manipur Naga festivals' held on 10th of May, 1986 at GM. Hall, Imphal resolved that the Nagas in Manipur should have a common festival day in a year. Names suggested in the Recommendation Committee of the seminar are:

o Naga Seedling Day
o Naga Cultural Awakening/Revival Day
o Naga Festival Day
o Naga Farmer's Day
o Naga Seed Day
o Naga New Year
o Naga Seed Sowing Festival and so forth

The members recommended Naga Seed Sowing festival which is to be observed in the 15th of February every year as the most appropriate and decided to forward it to the state government for necessary implementation. Naga Seed Sowing Festival was observed for the first time in 15th February 1987 with an appeal to 'every sane Naga' to play their part to make it a permanent Naga festival for years to come for “a race without its own culture is a lost race beyond redemption”.(Lui-Ngai-Ni Souvenir, 1988).

The follow up seminars and consultations in the aftermath of the festival decided that “the function shall hitherto be called Naga Lui-Ngai-Ni”. Lui-Ngai-Ni festival also has now been listed as one of the tourist festivals of India by the Ministry of Tourism, GoI. The nomenclature “Lui-Ngai-Ni” was coined by amalgamating the initials 'Lui' from the Tangkhul New Year festival, 'Luira'; 'Ngai' from the Rongmei festival 'Gaan Ngai' with 'Ni' from the ending of the MaoMaram/Poumai festival, 'Chithuni'.

The biggest and first festival of Tangkhuls in a calendar year, 'Luira' which falls in February is a festival to commemorate the first seed sowing of crops, and is celebrated with dancing, singing and feasting in their best colorful costumes. Most interesting highlights of this festival are
- 1. Thingreira-Khangakun (Tug of war); and
2. Lakhaaganui (virgin dance/ beauty contest).

People who had gone out from the village would certainly come back home in time to participate in 'Thingreira-Khangakun'. When the whole village, men and women, young and old, have all come to participate in it, they hold the rope and sing a song, the meaning of which is, 'ring out the old, ring in the new with all the blessing and bountiful harvest'.'

Gaan-Ngai is the festival of the Zeliangrong which is also described as a New Year Festival. 'Gaan-Ngai' is also called 'Hegangi' among the 'Zeme' and 'Gin-Ngi' among the Liangmei. Gaan-Ngai performs the production of fire, 'Mairapmei'. It was usually performed between the month of October and December depending on the state of the progress of agricultural operation.

Later, the Kabui Naga Association, the progenitor of the present Zeliangrong Union decided in 1947 that Gaan-Ngai be performed on the 13th day of the Meitei month of 'Wakching' a month which usually falls in the month of January as per the Meitei calendar of the lunar year. Since then, it has been performed on 13th of 'Wakching' onwards.

'Chithuni' is the biggest and most important festival among the Mao tribes of Manipur. It falls in the month of January (Chithunikhro). It is generally celebrated for five days at a stretch, but some villages continue up to the sixth day even. However the festive season extends upto 'Onianu', fifteen days later. The festival in accordance with the significances attached to it can also be called as the festival of: the Harvesting; the New Year; and the 'Seed Sowing.

The genesis of the ethnonyme 'Naga' is still shrouded in mystery. Tracing the genesis of the term 'Naga' from the Assamese word 'Noga', meaning ‘mountain’ or the word 'Naga' meaning 'naked’ by the colonial historiographers are all rejected by the Naga scholars. E.W. Dun observed that Nagas have no generic name but used the tribal names only. He identified five tribal sub-groups of Manipur in the Census of 1881 as the Naga tribes. They are Luhupa, Tangkhul, Koyla(Khoirao), Kaupui, and Maring. Naga scholars who do not accept the colonial historiography on Naga identity came up with two proposed theories.

One, Naga is derived from the Kachari word 'Nok', meaning warriors or fighters as the Kacharis came into violent conflicts with the Naga tribes like the Angamis and Zeliangrong. Two, RR Shimray in his work 'Origin and Culture of the Naga (1985)', opines Naga is derived from the Burmese word 'Naka” meaning 'pierced ears'. This is also accepted by Isak Chisi Swu in his book, From Generation to generation-stories of origin and Migration of the Nagas, 2001) as the most accepted and authentic version.

In the attempt to fashion an identity and history suitable to the political agenda of the present generation, the Naga Students Federation (NSF) put a ban on researches into Naga history and identity by the non- Nagas. It was in the first quarter of the twentieth century that the process of pan-Naga identity was experienced among some of the sub tribes in erstwhile Naga Hills.

It was said that a great realization that they belonged to the same racial stock with cultural affinity, and consequent decision to come together as one people took place while they ( Lothas, Rengmas, Aos, Changs, etc.) were sojourning in Paris as Labour Corps during World War-I.

In 1918, a group of Nagas who had returned from military service in France met to form the Naga Club. The British administrators informally supported the Club. They ran a co-operative store and held several meetings and discussions. The Club submitted a memorandum signed by 20 different signatories who claimed to represent all tribes belonging to Angamis, Kacha Nagas, Kukis, Semas, Lothas and Rengmas when the Simon Commission came to Kohima in 1929 to seek opinions on the future of India.

One Kuki was also there among the signatories, but no tribes from Manipur who are afterwards to be identified as Naga. The memorandum expressed its desire to the British government when they requested the later to continue to safeguard their rights against all encroachments from other people who were more advanced than them. The club also wanted their (Naga) country to be placed directly under the protection of the British. The territories they so claimed as Naga country doesn't include any part of Manipur.

To be continued...


* Aheibam Koireng Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at akoireng(aT)gmail(doT)com
This article was posted on February 13, 2016.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Khoupum Valley Expedition #5:: Gallery
  • 36th World TB day Rally :: Gallery
  • Veteran Cricket Tournament :: Gallery
  • And thus she became a fast learner
  • Coalition Government & its periphery
  • Know your test: Uric acid
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • No compromise on territorial integrity
  • Ten meritorious students sponsored
  • Anti Corruption Cell to be set up
  • Centre, State: Put RIMS back on track
  • Minister promise on Imphal Jiribam road
  • Students for HSLC Exam :: Gallery
  • Governor Cup Polo tournament #1:: Gallery
  • Blast of Md Kora & his shadows
  • A Drunken Dream :: Poem
  • Downfall of Congress party in Manipur
  • Corruption a part and parcel in our society
  • Hangkhanlian, Radheshyam, Nemcha ...
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Lecture on TS. Eliot's contribution
  • Naga integration via FA: Game of word play
  • Almost perfect team...missing "Lok Ayukta"
  • Miss Manipur Queen 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Yangkholet, Somatai, Mangaleima :: eMing
  • N Biren sworn-in CM #3 :: Gallery
  • Lanmei Thanbi Re-imagining the Light Spirit
  • Did we glorify the UNC highway blockade?
  • Career penchant in Anthropology
  • The formation of new BJP-led Government
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Nagas safe under Framework : NSCN-IM
  • New fish species discovered in Assam
  • Making Manipur bandh & blockade free: Guv
  • Politicking the politics
  • Photo : Governor with all Elected MLAs
  • Day 3: @ Bamon Leikai #3 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Day 3 activities #2 : Gallery
  • Kanchan Soibam in Femina Miss India 2017
  • RIST talk 28-Transition in amorphous solid
  • Formation of Gender Champions @RGU
  • Free spectacle distribution at Loktak Station
  • Naga history of transition stands unique
  • Delhi warn NE against shady land deals
  • Screen kids' films in NE languages
  • Looking at the pre-poll promises of BJP
  • State govt- perceptions & premonitions
  • MLAs took oath of office : Gallery
  • SundarGopal Condolence @Ghy : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Thabal at Pune #2 :: Gallery
  • Yaoshang: Journalist Sports #2 :: Gallery
  • What Term of Negotiation btn GoM & UNC?
  • Class 12 marks may decide your college..
  • N. Biren led Govt won the floor test
  • Sadar Hills Demand 2011-2017 : Timeline
  • Job @ VK NRL Hospital at Numaligarh
  • Cycling from Jessami to Mantripukhri
  • Lifting the longest ever blockade
  • Hope amid the hesitations
  • Tenwa Chandrasakhi :: Funga wari
  • Yaoshang Day 5: Sports #2: Gallery
  • Day 3: Yaoshang activities #1 : Gallery
  • Day 3: @ Bamon Leikai #2 : Gallery
  • Drinking bottled mineral water culture
  • Condolence meeting for friend of Assam
  • Food Outlet at DM Community College
  • APFEJ urges Delhi to be respectful to media
  • TSA Ceremonial Rite to its Former SG
  • Statistics not telling the whole story
  • Kangleipak Kang Trophy #1 : Gallery
  • Day 5: Yaoshang Activities #4: Gallery
  • N Biren sworn-in CM #2 :: Gallery
  • Insurgency as reflected in Chagi Khuji
  • Yaoshang Meithaba @Uripok: Gallery
  • Women Empowerment
  • Construction as career choice
  • Condolence meeting for Sundar Gopal
  • Manipuri group to stall trains
  • Manipur State Archery Championship
  • Miss Manipur Queen 2017 #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Halankar celebration : Gallery
  • 2nd phase Polling @Nungba #2 :: Gallery
  • Art of Lamangdong's stone bowls & Toupokpi
  • Yaoshang Day 1: Mei Loukhatpa #2: Gallery
  • Pabung Sunder Gopal funeral at Mandalay
  • Emotional integration of all communities
  • Training on Traditional Snacks
  • How to take along disparate parties
  • Yaoshang Day 5: Sports #1: Gallery
  • Meetei Pokpi :: Radio e-pao
  • Day 3: @ Bamon Leikai #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Day 1: Mei Thaba #4: Gallery
  • Letter: Manipur Public Service Commission
  • Career as Chef
  • HQ IGAR celebrates 14th Raising Day [upd]
  • N Biren sworn-in CM #1 :: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Thabal at Pune #1 :: Gallery
  • Mix Media Art exhibition #2 :: Gallery
  • Yaoshang: Journalist Sports #1 :: Gallery
  • Nongthombam Biren sworn-in CM, Mar 15
  • Glaucoma Week : March 12 - 18, 2017
  • Annual Yaoshang Thabal 2017 at Pune
  • Course in Butterfly Studies at BNHS
  • Yaoshang- with DJ @Sekmai :: Gallery
  • Kangleipak Football Trophy 2017 :: Gallery
  • Thabal chongbagi Peisa khaiba #2:: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Day 1: Mei Thaba #3: Gallery
  • Cue card for the new Chief Minister
  • International Rivers Day at Tamenglong
  • What kind of Nagaland are we moving..
  • Yaoshang Day 1: Mei Loukhatpa #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Day 1: Mei Thaba #2: Gallery
  • Election: Counting & Winnners #2:: Gallery
  • Ending TB is going to be hard...
  • Holi Pala performance at Raj Bhavan
  • Archery Championship at Keithalmanbi
  • NPF to support non-Congress coalition
  • Workshop on filmmaking at MSFDS
  • Yaoshang Day 1: Mei Thaba #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Day 1: AMWJU Sports : Gallery
  • 2nd phase Polling @Chandel :: Gallery
  • Testing patience of Manipuris, Cong-UNC
  • Bangladesh Meetei leisabi at Sylhet
  • A Hindi tract with feminist ideals
  • Condemns decision on Sajibu Nongma
  • Churchill Brothers vs Shillong Lajong
  • Election: Counting & Winnners #1:: Gallery
  • Mamliba maikeise :: Radio e-pao
  • Saroi Khangba #3 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang :: A flash presntation
  • UNC in Manipur Electoral Politics #3
  • The Election Trap :: Poem
  • Mix Media Art exhibition #1 :: Gallery
  • Mountain Division Polo #2 : Gallery
  • MCA T20 Luwangpokpa Trophy :: Gallery
  • Possibility of hung House
  • BJP will form government in Manipur
  • Trade connection with Southeast Asia #2
  • Breast Cancer Conference :: Gallery
  • Saroi Khangba #2 : Gallery
  • 2nd phase Polling @Sora :: Gallery
  • Judgement regarding MCSCCE - 2016
  • 2nd phase Polling @Nungba #1 :: Gallery
  • Thabal chongbagi Peisa khaiba #1:: Gallery
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #1 :: Gallery
  • Exam Centers for HSE 2017 : Download
  • 'Thammoi Tahoure' : Muslims' musical
  • International Women's Day at Delhi
  • International Women's day
  • Thoubal Keithel #1 : Gallery
  • Gita-Govinda- Dance Drama #2: Gallery
  • Women's Day: Women Safety in Train
  • All eyes on 2nd phase polls
  • Not so hard verdict, but perhaps..
  • Kabui Keioiba & Lai Khutsangbi ...
  • Rahul Gandhi @Imphal #2: Gallery
  • Mountain Division Polo #1 : Gallery
  • People's Convention on FA : Gallery
  • Manipur hills as tourist destination
  • Armed Violence & Nationalism : Report
  • Saroi Khangba #1 : Gallery
  • Polling for Assembly election #2 : Gallery
  • PM Narendra Modi #3: Gallery
  • Maphou Dam :: 360 View Panorama
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #2 : Ooba
  • Laisram Birendra Kumar: PadmaShri Award
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #2: Gallery
  • Biju Ningombam (Photos) #3 :: eRang
  • Laihui @Tanglei Music Festival :: Gallery
  • Landscape of Manipur #5: Wallpaper
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Wareppa Naba :: Profile of Theatre Actor
  • Meiteilon Folk & Tangkhul duet : Ooba
  • Khunung Eeshei/ Ema Emoinu #3 : Radio
  • SPONSORED ADS